Real Talk

5 Signs an Employee Is Disengaged

No matter what type of business you have, engaged employees are vital to success. You may serve tacos so tasty they bring customers to tears or sell cars that are in high demand, but if your employees don’t connect with customers and make them feel special, the quality of your products or services has little value.

As a manager, you know that employees all have different personalities. Each has a unique character, distinct sense of humor, quirky traits, and hobbies – all the features that make human behavior so intriguing, regardless of how much you have in common. In fact, workplaces with a diverse mixture of individuals with a variety of qualities are often the most productive and enjoyable work environments.

Individuality aside, one trait all your employees must share is a warm and welcoming demeanor, since every customer shares one need: feeling valued. But having a positive, welcoming disposition doesn’t come naturally to most of us and is a skill that needs to be honed and continuously reinforced through coaching and training.

When you have an employee that struggles to connect with their peers, managers, or your customers, it is important to take action. And as most things in life, the earlier you recognize the problem, the easier it is to correct. Here are 5 signs an employee is disengaged:

They complain regularly.

Employees who are always negative and who constantly complain are not only toxic to your company culture, they can ruin your customer experience. Whether their comments are gossip, personal, or insubordinate in nature, they will quickly poison the environment. Of course, everyone has an occasional complaint (it’s all part of being human) but when negative remarks become continuous, it’s time to coach the employee and work towards changing their attitude while at work.

An important thing to remember when talking with employees who are noticeably unhappy, it is best to start off by being a sounding board, someone who is genuinely interested in hearing what they have to say. You might just find that they are needing an outlet and just need someone to listen to what they have to say.

They don’t interact with peers or management.

Not everyone is a social butterfly, which typically keeps a work environment balanced between the spirited chatterboxes and the composed behind-the-scenes personality types. But there is a fundamental difference between folks who have a reserved personality and those who actively avoid engaging with those around them. In most cases, when an employee refuses to engage with others, it’s a clear sign of detachment. Even if an employee is pleasant when interacting with customers, being distant with co-workers and management becomes toxic and noticeable to customers – And may be hurting your business.

They never show signs of curiosity or a desire to improve.

An apathetic attitude doesn’t have a place in customer service. Have you ever run across a food server who, when asked for a menu suggestion, replies that they can’t recommend anything because they don’t eat there? This is possibly the worst response ever and doesn’t leave customers feeling very satisfied. Excitement is contagious; apathy is infectious. A good employee can excite a customer over something as simple as a household paintbrush and has the power to inspire profitable levels of customer loyalty. But an unmotivated employee can destroy a brand’s customer experience and can be damaging to the bottom line.

They never take the initiative to help peers or customers.

Having a passion for helping others is an innate trait and doesn’t come natural to everyone. But we all have the ability to learn and develop the skills necessary to delight customers.

During a typical customer experience, there are countless opportunities to have interact with and satisfy your customer’s needs. If you have employees that actively avoid interactions with customers, they are costing your business money. Having a program in place to evaluate and coach to these specific revenue driving behaviors is crucial to the health of a business and is an important steps towards inspiring customer loyalty.

(Check out our infographic on 7 Easy Steps to the Perfect Greeting )

You cannot rely on them to be dependable.

Everyone has emergencies in their lives that interfere with work: sick kids, car problems, illness, and deaths in the family. Management is typically compassionate and understanding of these crises but when a pattern starts to develop, suspicions arise about employee detachment. Habitually being late or missing work could be a sign of more serious problems or merely a lack of commitment to the business. Undependable workers create discord for everyone, so trying to determine the cause is a good first step.

Dealing with disengaged employees is one of the most challenging obstacles a manager can face. By having a proactive and steady coaching program in place, these employees can often become evangelicals of your brand and can blossom into top performers over time.

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